National Geographic Traveler
All travel, All the time

Africa Travel Planner Intro
North Africa
West Africa
East Africa
South and South-Central Africa
Deciding When to Go
Calculating Currency Exchange
Learning Local Languages
Determining Time Differences
Making Telephone Calls
Planning Your Safari
Taking Public Transportation
Packing Your Suitcase
Clearing Customs
Dining Out
Finding a Place to Stay
Staying Healthy
Staying Safe
Saving Money
Photographing Africa
Tunes from Africa!

» Listen Now

Scenes from a Kenya Safari

Photo: Maasai men

Staff writer George W. Stone shares photos and more from his Africa adventure.
» See Photos

WorldWise Trivia Quiz

Photo: Uluru

Test your geography IQ with our interactive quiz.
» Play Now


Africa Travel Planner

Taking Public Transportation

If you are traveling independently, public transportation—when approached with a degree of caution and a sense of adventure—is a viable option that can add flavor to your trip. Here, our experts weigh in on each option.

By Air
Though expensive, planes can jet you from place to place safely and with little hassle. (Many African countries, like Madagascar, are known for having poorly maintained roads.) Or you can charter a private plane. In Kenya, consider calling Nairobi's Tropic Air Wilson Airport, recommends Kuki Gallmann, author of I Dreamed of Africa (which takes place in Kenya). Elsewhere, seek a recommendation from a U.S. consulate, embassy, or tourist board.

By Taxi
"Head straight for the information booth at the airport first," says Karen Cockburn, co-founder of the Africa Travel Centre. "They can recommend a bus or taxi and can negotiate the fare for you." Don't wander out to the curb to hail your own taxi. Uncertified drivers target foreigners unfamiliar with routes and zones and jack up costs.

By Bus or Train
Trains offer scenic glimpses of Africa's countryside, but many are unreliable, except in South Africa. Buses allow access to the widest area, but they're few and far between, and passengers are much more susceptible to petty thievery. "Just try getting on a bus designed to take 40 people but is carrying over a hundred, and see if you don't get your pocket picked," challenges Mark Nolting, author and founder of the Africa Adventure Company. Safety on buses varies from country to country. Consult a local or a like-minded traveler for advice. "They can tell you about procedures, advise you about food and water for long trips, and give you pointers on local and long-distance buses or vans," says Jennifer Lawson, who produced a TV series on Africa for National Geographic.

Renting a Car and Hiring a Private Driver
Unless you're in South Africa—where the roads are generally in better condition than countries like Madagascar, and road signs in English—think carefully about renting a car. For many, it's easier to hire a private licensed guide who leads motor trips, or a private driver.

Related Web Resources:

Google Web Directory
Airlines, rental cars, bus services, and coach services in South African countries.

Cape Town Tourism
Pointers on ways to get around in Cape Town.

Avis Super Car Rental
Rental car booking in South Africa.

E-mail a Friend

Our Picks

Center for Sustainable Destinations

Learn how to preserve the authenticity of the places you love.

Click Here

National Geographic Traveler Places of a Lifetime
Our guides lead you to the best in ten world-class cities with photo galleries, walking tours, and what to know before you go.

Click Here

The National Geographic Traveler Reader Panel

Are you a real traveler? Someone who cares about authenticity? Who has a point of view about where we should travel—and how? Then tell us what you think and be eligible to win a trip to almost anywhere in the United States.

Click Here